An Online Professional Learning Network for School Librarians

Goals Statements

My Online Professional Learning Network will help me to…

  • Connect with other school libraries that have similar needs and populations to serve
  • Pursue grant resources for technology implementation and collection development
  • Use the online LIS Professional Commons as an initiation to the library learning community since I am only a Special Student and am not officially admitted into an MLIS program yet
  • Develop my skills in outreach programming for at-risk learners, especially bilingual and reluctant readers
  • Engage in trend-spotting of up-and-coming digital tools and instructional technology strategies


Defined Scope

It is my goal to be a secondary (preferably high school) Library Media Specialist in Southern Wisconsin. I would like to work in a place that honors my technology skills but does not require that the majority of my professional time be spent fixing computer problems. I want to serve students and staff directly by meeting their media needs and increasing their information literacy skills. I also intend to keep my “eye to the sky” because I have a strong interest in working in public libraries if I ever decide to leave K-12 education.


Resource Network


School Librarianship

The Adventures of Library Girl

This blog features explorations of a lot of trends in school librarianship. The author, Jennifer LaGarde, has been honored as a Mover and Shaker of 2012 by Library Journal.


American Association of School Librarians @aasl

This website has information about issues, advocacy and continuing education for school librarians, plus an interesting section for school librarian students.


Association for Library Service to Children Listserves

I can use these listserves as a means to casually tap in to discussions between school librarians around the country.

This is a listserve for discussion of all matters regarding library service to children.

This is a discussion listserve about partnerships between public libraries and schools.

This is a listserve that discusses children’s collection management.


Cathy Nelson’s Professional Thoughts

This blog by a Nationally Board Certified Teacher Librarian features posts about the integration of technology in authentic and ethical ways to increase student engagement.


The Daring Librarian

This award-winning blog by Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones shares lots of ideas and reflections for school librarians.


School Library Journal @sljournal

This is website by a respected journal provides online content of the print publication plus other news, features, and leadership tools for school librarians


Teacher-Librarian Twitter Feeds

  • #tlchat
  • #teacher-librarian

These are the primary hashtags teacher librarians are using to share interesting insights and links on Twitter.


A Media Specialist’s Guide to the Internet

This blog shares digital resources for school librarians and the teachers they serve. Especially unique is a collection of information on book repair, which seems to be vital knowledge for school libraries that coordinate textbook checkouts.


Teacher Librarian

This is the web-presence of a journal for school library professionals. Some parts of the site do not seem to get updated regularly, but the current issue is always available.


TL Virtual Café

This wikispace has webinars (upcoming and archived) and conversations about teacher-librarians and educational technology.



Grant Resources

This is an online charity specifically that schools and classrooms make requests for materials they need.


Grant Wrangler

Among other school subjects, this website lists grants for school libraries, literacy grants for schools, and reading grants for school librarians and media specialists.



This website is a crowdfunding platform where people who want to raise money can create online fundraisers to get the money that they need.


The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries

This foundation offers grants for school libraries to update, extend and diversify their collections.


Library Grants

Authors of the book, Winning Grants: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians with Multimedia Tutorials and Grant Development Tools, Stephanie Gerding and Pam MacKellar offer a blog for librarians interested in grant opportunities.


Scholastic Library Grants

Scholastic keeps an online list of current and ongoing grant opportunities for school libraries, complete with links and deadlines.


Tech and Learning Grant Guru

Gary Carnow offers grant-writing advice and tips for people seeking grants in educational technology. They also link to a calendar for 2012-2013 of grants for education compiled by Dell and Intel.


Wisconsin Humanities Council Grants

The Wisconsin Humanities Council offers grants and mini-grants to public humanities programs that encourage conversations, connections and reflections upon our world.



Initiation to Library Learning Community

Hack Library School @hacklibschool

This is a group blog that tries to redefine library school using the web as a collaborative space outside of any specific university or organization.


In the Library with the Lead Pipe @libraryleadpipe

This “peer-reviewed” blog offers essays from librarians, educators, administrators, library support staff, and community members to help improve our communities, our libraries, and our professional organizations.



This is an online forum for LIS students that offers discussion opportunities, resources for LIS studies and free subscriptions to Library Journal and School Library Journal upon graduation.


Librarian by Day @librarianbyday

This blog by Bobbi Newman has been honored by the Salem Press. She is interested in digital services, the digital divide and innovative new practices.


LISNews: That New Librarian Smell

This is collaborative blog devoted to current events and news in the world of Library and Information Science.


LIS Twitter Feeds

  • #LIS
  • #MLIS
  • #library
  • #librarian

These are popular hashtags being used on Twitter by the LIS community.


PLN Starter Kit

This resource guide hosted on LiveBinders is a crowdsourced collection of resources for connected librarians and educators who are looking to begin a Professional Learning Network. It especially highlights popular Twitter feeds and Blogs.


ResourceShelf ResourceBlog

This is a blog where librarians and researchers share the results of specific, sometimes unique, web searches for information and resources.


Connecting to At-Risk Readers

American Library Association Listserves

These listserves are ways for me to keep up with discussions about at-risk readers around the country.

This is listserve discusses how libraries are addressing the needs of teens who do not or cannot use the library because of socioeconomic, legal, educational, physical or other relevant factors.

This is a listserve is about serving non-English speakers in public libraries.


Children’s and YA Lit Twitter Feeds

  • #titletalk
  • #YAlit

There are a few hashtags being used on Twitter to recommend books for children and young adults.


Colorín Colorado @colorincolorado

This is a bilingual website for educators and families of English Language Learners that promotes reading and academic success. There is a specific section for librarians.


Go Big Read @GoBigRead

This is a local common reading program that seeks to engage students, faculty, staff and the entire community in an engaging way through online and live outlets.


Library of Congress for Parents and Educators

This website contains resources that help young people unlock the power of reading.


Read Wisconsin

This website is hosted by the Department of Public Instruction of Wisconsin to provide webinars, videos and other resources about reading for those serving diverse populations.


Wisconsin State Reading Association

This website offers advocacy ideas, resources and professional development that             addresses issues and trends in reading and language arts.


Tech Trendspotting @chadkafka

Chad Kafka is a technology coach who trains educators and shares his ideas and presentations on his website.


EdGalaxy @edgalaxy_com

This blog compiles the latest technology, tools, toys and news for “teachers who want to work smarter.”


The Edublog Awards

This website gives annual awards through a pubic nomination and voting process on social media such as blogs, hashtags, wikis, podcasts and their educational applications. This is a great resource to see what has been popular and useful in instructional technology every year.



This is a website with articles featuring technology tools and trends by covering the leading edge of digital learning.


Free Technology for Teachers @rmbyrne

This daily blog by Richard Byrne delivers ideas and resources on instructional technology tools and social media applications.


iLearn Technology

This blog is written by a former schoolteacher named Kelly Tenkely who now consults on how technology can  meet students’ needs and engage them.


Libraries and Transliteracy

This is a group blog and Facebook group that shares information on all types of literacies relevant to libraries (digital literacy, media literacy, information literacy, visual literacy, 21st century literacies, transliteracies, etc.)


Make Use Of

This is a website that features articles and reviews of websites, technologies and internet tips. It is also a great learning resource for unfamiliar digital tools.


Social Media Examiner @smexaminer

This is an online social media magazine that businesses (err… libraries) can use to guide their development of their social media presence.



Network Maintenance Plan

In order for my Online Professional Learning Network plan to be meaningful, I will be using tools such as Google Reader, Twitter and possibly Diigo to keep it organized and accessible to me. These tools are ones that are reasonable for me integrate into my daily routine at a minimal level of about five minutes a day. The key will be to make the maintenance of my OPLN to become a habit so that it remains meaningful to me. This way I can make minor additions or adjustments gradually whenever I discover new ideas or resources.

When I am admitted officially into an MLIS program, I will probably find that the goal statements of my OPLN will need to be tweaked once I have received official career and course advising as to what my plan and path through library school will be. This plan will also probably need a complete overhaul of goals and resources when and if I make a career move from ESL Teacher to School Library Media Specialist (and again if I decide to move to public libraries). At that point, my OPLN should reflect my needs in my precise professional role. This is a reasonable expectation at any career change point thereafter.

What we really want

When I was in grad school the first time (2005-2007), I got my Master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (Man, I’ve got to find a better way to describe this period in my life… it was epic and I have lots of stories, but it’s just awkward now that I’m “going back for more” grad school torture.) I imagine this is pretty common knowledge in the library world, but in case you didn’t know, Illinois’ LIS program is consistently highly ranked (number one in 2009 by U.S. News and World Report). It also has the biggest public academic library in the country. It crossed my mind while I was at Illinois that maybe I should’ve been working on a MLIS instead of my MATESL, but hindsight’s 20/20. (I felt a little better when I discovered that Wisconsin is actually ranked just a little higher than Illinois for a specialty in School Library Media, which is my thing. On Wisconsin!)

Anyway, to get to the point, as a grad student with one of the premier academic libraries at my disposal, I wanted nothing more than to never set foot in the library at all. As I was reading Dempsey’s “Always on: Libraries in a world of permanent connectivity”, I kept thinking about how and what I used the library at the University of Illinois for.

Here were my uses:

  1. Digital reserves
  2. Online searches of academic databases of scholarly articles that I didn’t have access to outside of being a university student. (For the record, at the time, accessing the online academic article databases at Illinois was a major pain–it was really hard to remember how to “get in” and definitely not intuitive or teach-yourself. Even the librarians complained about how obtuse it was. I hope it has improved, because for my program there was no way around it.)
  3. Meeting in the physical library for group projects when we needed computer access and my TA office was awkward or crowded.
  4. The occasional hot beverage or snacks from the little coffee kiosks in the entrances while working on said group projects.

Never once did I enlist the services of a reference librarian for anything more useful than to point me to the whereabouts of whatever section of the library. Oh–I guess there were two semesters where I took my “Academic Writing for International Graduate Students” classes on a field trip there for a library tour and orientation by the reference librarian. If I needed a real book, I had the option of requesting it online and having it “routed” to me in a padded envelope and delivered directly to me to my TA mailbox/office. I think I did this twice.

I’m pretty sure that I was not alone in these feelings/habits, at least among my grad student friends. I wonder if grad student attitudes toward libraries have changed since 2007. I suspect that the perceived usefulness of an academic library to its users really depends on convenience.

On a side-note, I was really please that Dempsey mentioned marketing for libraries in his paper… in fact, in light of a scholarly conversation I had in class last week, I think I foresee a budding interest in this topic for me. I haven’t had any ah-ha! moments on the subject quite yet, but my antennas are up.

Oh yeah, introductions…

This morning, I am sitting on the terrace at Memorial Union waiting for class to begin. Not because I’m an early bird, but because I got a ride this morning and that’s how things went. It is a beautiful morning though, so I shan’t complain.

A little more about me, for those who are interested. I am beginning my studies in LIS this summer, as I concurrently take a Children’s Literature course and a Digital Tools, Trends and Debates course. They overlap for about three weeks, so for a little while, I’ve got a ton of reading to to. Good thing I like to read, right?

I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in Library Science, but I always let myself (or others) talk me out of it. *You’re in the middle of a program, just finish it. You don’t need a second Master’s. There are no jobs! Especially now that everything is online. You wouldn’t like the politics (HA! You think I don’t know about politics–I’m a Wisconsin schoolteacher!). You’re too old to start a third career.* I could go on and on. But forget it, long story short, I’m doing it. It’s what I want and you only have one life!

I didn’t figure this out and get decisive until this February and it was too late for me to be admitted for fall at that point. So instead, I am a “special student” until [hopefully] fall of 2013. Special, indeed!

Since I am a schoolteacher (I teach high school English as a Second Language), it makes the most sense for me to pursue my certification as a Library Media Specialist (school libraries). I also wouldn’t mind working in a public library someday if I decided I wanted out of K-12 land. I plan on keeping my job and working full-time, doing grad school part-time. That’s the plan at least.

You have no idea how exciting and refreshing this library stuff is for me! I always joke about how what I do (ESL) was a plan B for me and even though I do like it, it’s so cool to go after a dream!